UK government turned a blind eye to Iranian Christian converts persecution

UK government turned a blind eye to Iranian Christian converts persecution

The Upper Tribunal in a landmark decision on PS (Christianity-risk) Iran CG [2020] UKUT 46 (IAC) has ruled that Iranians who convert to Christianity would face the real risk of persecution; overturn over a decade of indifference to their plight.

SZ and JM 2008

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In the Tribunal’s rulings, SZ and JM followed the precedent laid out in FS and Others which came four years earlier [2004]. In their ruling, they distinguished between the types of converts and maintained that “ordinary converts”, as opposed to pastors and other leaders, did not meet the risk threat hold.  

2009 elections

Following Iran’s 2009 elections, the government began to target its citizens who had left the country illegally or who had registered as asylum seekers.

A number of law cases revealed that the regime engaged in widespread surveillance of Iranian nationals online presence as well as interrogating returnees over their asylum claims.

Britain finally relents

In response to the increasing oppression, Christian converts faced the British government finally relented and issued a new Country Policy which stated that converts are at a real risk of persecution and granting asylum is likely to be appropriate.

Arguments in opposition

For quite a while the Secretary of State refused to adopt this position under the guise that whilst conversions were considered a crime of apostasy in Iran, prosecutions were rare. Instead, the Iranian government was far more likely to charge the individual with another trumped-up charge related to national security.

Furthermore, converts were often demanded to recant their conversion and sign official documents. Despite this, the Secretary of State maintained that this did not violate the Refugee Convention which guaranteed the right of individuals to choose the faith they have chosen.

In response to a spike in the number of arrests during Christmas as converts flocked to churches, the Secretary of State simply maintained that individuals still had their right to freedom of religion protected but they shouldn’t attend church at Christmas.

Turning a blind eye

Time and time again, Britain has failed to live up to its duties. Whilst, on the one hand, it preaches religious tolerance and a plural democratic system, it fails to protect those most vulnerable. Why? Because they wish to be seen as tough on migration and pander to a xenophobic and empowered right-wing. The people who suffer are those unable to express their democratic and religious rights.